Guernsey Pensions – How do I avoid the Pension timebomb?

By | News, Pensions, Secondary Pensions | No Comments

By Roger Berry, Managing Director at Concept Group Limited

We all lead busy lives, by the time we have negotiated the latest road closures, picked the kids up and walked the dog it’s time for bed.  But to make long term plans and avoid long term difficulties, occasionally, we have to stop for a few minutes and make time. Leaving it until tomorrow means that lots of tomorrows pass and you end up in a right pickle.

If you have significant wealth or have a good final salary pension scheme – you are one of the lucky people for whom financing in your retirement is not a major headache and the options described under wont concern you.  But for most people and certainly the young, it’s one of those things you know can’t be put off forever, but somehow never quite gets done.

Unlike current retiring people, the generations to come have to face a demographic timebomb that has very direct consequences on retirement and pensions.

The infographic above demonstrates (in round terms) that people are living much longer and when you look at the effects on the population in the future, those working and paying taxes as a proportion to those not working is changing awfully.

This isn’t something unique to Guernsey but unfortunately we are not well placed and our demographic time bomb is worse than many others, including the UK.  The States recognise that people are going to need to do more themselves to avoid the worst of the timebomb that’s ticking.  Primarily that will mean having your own funds in retirement.

I know that planning for your retirement is right up there with doing your annual tax return and visiting the dentist, but actually it’s not a difficult decision.  in simple terms your options on retirement in Guernsey are pretty straight forward:

Rely on the States to look after you – Not so much of a plan but more of “it’ll be alright on the night” approach.  If this fits your circumstances, don’t be embarrassed, according to our States own statistics, this is what the majority of people are doing as apparently only 45% of our population have pension arrangements in place. So for the other 55% grasp the nettle yourself and start a Retirement Annuity Trust (RAT) or get onboard with the upcoming Secondary Pensions project, already passed by the States, that requires Employers to have a pension plan for you.  This reflects governments own concerns that its ability to support you in the face of the demographic timebomb is ever reducing.

Employer – they may have a scheme which they/you or both contribute to and they probably pay for it to be run – so that makes it cheap for you.  If the contributions being put in are insufficient for your retirement needs, you may be able to make additional contributions. Even if they don’t have a scheme now the Secondary Pension project will soon require them to offer one. 

Personal – you look after yourself.  There are no insurance companies offering personal pension plans here anymore so the choice is simple – access a local RAT plan.  They are pretty flexible and widely available.  You can choose to contribute as much or as little as you like, but up to £50k per year attracts tax relief, so the tax breaks are significant. You can take a loan from your plan before you retire.  You usually can access benefit from age 50 including the option to take a tax free lump sum of up to 30% of your fund.  Thereafter you agree a pension amount to take regularly which is taxable but your personal allowances may reduce or totally avoid tax. Although you could consider starting a family type arrangement to look after your kids at the same time?  If they have a plan set up for them it may well encourage them to contribute what they can afford over time and with pensions the earlier you start the better.

Guernsey Secondary Pensions

By | News, Pensions | No Comments

By Callum Beausire, Business Development & Marketing Associate at Concept Group Limited.

This is due to affect employers and their employees in 2022 although the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may well delay the date.  The main take-away is that it will be mandatory to offer a form of qualifying pension scheme to all staff.

How will it work?

Once enrolled an employee can then decide to opt out, but the employer still has a legal duty to re-enrol their employees every three years (if the employee has opted out) and the employee is able to opt out again if they so wish.

For employees that do not opt out, which one would expect to be most as they will benefit from the employer contributions, the requirements will be that the employee contributes 1% of earnings in the first year of enrolment, which will then increase to 6.5% over a 7 year period.  The employer contributions will start at 1% and increase to 3.5% over a 7 year period. Together the employer and employee contribution rate will be minimum 2% of earnings in the first year, rising to 10% after 7 years. Minimum rates can be changed for employer and employee providing that the joint employer and employee rate is not less than the minimum in any year.

What is an Eligible Employee?

An eligible employee is any employee that is resident in Guernsey and paying Social Security contributions.  All eligible employees would need to be automatically enrolled into a qualifying scheme by their employer and the eligible employee has the option to opt out of the scheme if they so wish.

What should employers consider?

It is important for the employers to carefully consider what is the most suitable route to take in order to meet the new auto-enrolment obligations.  Considerations such as costs, ease of use, investments, green and sustainable investments, the number of employees, staff turnover and remuneration packages will all factor into which route is the most suitable to take.  Options for employers are:

  • Establish their own qualifying scheme with an alternative provider;
  • Use an existing pension scheme that they may have;
  • Enrol employees into the default States Secondary Pension Scheme.

Concept Group Limited is a long standing, locally owned and locally run Guernsey based pension provider and has vast experience in operating employer sponsored pension schemes.  If you or your company is looking for more information about employer sponsored pension schemes, please get in touch by emailing us at or calling 01481 723550.

Pensions made easy…

By | Pensions | No Comments

At Concept we strive to make your life easier.

Whether you are a Financial Adviser, an existing member of one of our pension schemes, or, a potential future member of one of our pension schemes, we are constantly looking for ways to improve efficiency and simplify affairs.

We understand that pensions are highly complex, and as such, they can appear a bit daunting and we hope that by providing you with relevant, useful tools and information you will feel more at ease with managing and maintaining your pension, or that of your clients.

Our aim is to provide you with:

Direct, Interactive Sources for News and Company Information

We aim to provide you with up to date, accurate information so that you remain “in the loop” when it comes to relevant and notable industry news. Such information can be viewed via our company Twitter and LinkedIn pages, which provide you with relevant industry articles as well as helpful tips and our own company news. A constant feed is also provided under the news section of our website.

The best possible solution – Pension Finder

Concept has developed a simple to navigate tool, the “Pension Finder”, to enable you to find the most suitable pension product to meet your own (or your clients’) retirement needs and objectives.

Simply select the most appropriate response to each of the questions, for your own (or your clients’) individual circumstances and retirement objectives, and the Pension Finder will determine the most suitable Concept Aurora pension scheme that meets the personal circumstances and retirement objectives stated.

To view the Pension Finder simply visit

Retirement Calculator

The Retirement Calculator is a quick and easy pension’s calculator that provides an indication as to the amount that an individual should be contributing, whether regularly or as a one off lump sum, in order to have a sufficient amount in their pension at retirement to provide them with their desired level of income.

The Retirement Calculator will help to identify any potential shortfall based on current fund value and level of contributions, allowing advisers and clients to make informed decisions about ongoing retirement planning and where necessary, make additional provisions to address any shortfall.

The Retirement Calculator has been designed for indication purposes and should only be treated as a guide.

To view the Retirement Calculator simply visit

Retirement Income and Funding Calculator

The Retirement Income and Funding Calculator can be found within the IFA login area of our website, and provides a more detailed evaluation of your client’s future retirement position. Essentially it will provide a detailed and comprehensive overview of what level of contributions is required in order to receive the desired income upon retirement.

If you are a Financial Adviser and wish to view the Retirement Income and Funding Calculator, simply register to our IFA login area

Technical Guidance Notes

Technical guidance notes are issued frequently and are designed to help improve the understanding of our product offerings and the potential benefits of these, as well as any current and relevant technical fundamentals that may be affecting the industry. Currently you will find a selection of technical guidance notes that cover topics from updates on French taxation to a piece on Trust Vs Contract and the suitability of each structure.

If you are a Financial Adviser and wish to view our technical guidance notes, simply register to our IFA login area


If you wish to obtain a copy of our product literature, generic forms and fee schedules you can now logon to our IFA login area rather than having to contact us directly.

To view our downloads, simply register to our IFA login area

Contact Us/Request Form

Help us to help you by completing a contact us/request form. We will be more than happy to answer your questions at a time that suits you. If you feel that there is a topic that could be further explained as a technical guidance note, let us know and we will do our best to upload this to our website. You can also request on site training by simply filling in this form.

To complete a contact us/request form, simply visit


This information is provided for general information only, Concept does not provide financial, legal nor tax advice, and nothing in this document should be construed as such. Concept  shall not be held responsible for any liability or loss arising directly or indirectly from any reliance placed upon the content of this document. Concept recommends that all individuals should seek their own appropriate advice.

Dispelling the myths surrounding delisted Guernsey QROPS, following the HMRC revisions to legislation in April 2012 and May 2012

By | News, Pensions | No Comments

The media undoubtedly plays a vital role within society, providing up to date and relevant information to the masses.  However as the old saying goes; with great power comes great responsibility.

The media has a responsibility to ensure the validity of the information they put out into the public domain. The responsibility of the media to ensure the accuracy of the information they publish is even greater when the topic being discussed may potentially influence the future financial planning of an individual in respect of arguably their single largest personal asset – their pension scheme.

On the 3rd October 2013, Money Marketing published a “Technical Quiz” with a number of questions focused on the recent 2012 revisions in the QROPS legislation and specifically in regard to delisted QROPS. Such topics are certainly worthy of coverage within relevant industry journals, as it is likely there are still a number of individuals who may have previously transferred their UK accrued pension benefits into a now former Guernsey QROPS who are unsure how the legislative changes might impact their position.

But the very least that should be expected of such a publication, when providing information that many individuals will likely rely upon, is to ensure the information being communicated is factual and correct. Unfortunately in this instance, this was simply not the case.


One of the questions raised within the Money Marketing Technical Quiz was:

David transferred his UK registered Pension Scheme to a QROPS in Guernsey in 2009. His QROPS administrator lost their QROPS status in 2012 along with the majority of Guernsey QROPS, this means that David…

A) will need to transfer his Guernsey pension rights to a new QROPS within three years of his scheme ceasing be a QROPS or suffer a “member payments charge”

B) will need to transfer his Guernsey pension rights to a new QROPS within five years of his scheme ceasing be a QROPS or suffer a “member payments charge”

C) can continue with the same scheme and the administrator still has to maintain their reporting to HMRC

D) can continue with the same scheme and the administrator no longer has to maintain their reporting to HMRC

The answer that Money Marketing initially provided to this question was A.


This suggested that any individual who had transferred their accrued UK pension benefits to a Guernsey QROPS, that was no longer a QROPS post April 2012 due to the revised legislation introduced by HMRC, would need to transfer out of the scheme within a three year period or else they may be liable to suffer “member payments charges” as a result.

This is 100% incorrect and entirely contradicts the information that was provided by HMRC at the time that confirmed that any individual who was an existing member of a Guernsey QROPS, that was no longer a QROPS following the revised legislation, would be able to continue to receive their pension benefits from the scheme in the same manner and would not be at risk of any member payment charges as a result of the scheme no longer appearing on the HMRC QROPS list.


Please find below the HMRC confirmation supporting this statement:

These extracts have been taken from the FAQ’s of the Pension Schemes section of the HMRC website ( and more recently the revised technical guidance notes within the RPSM (Registered Pension Scheme Manual).

Pension Schemes FAQ Section

“5. What will happen to a member’s pension savings in a QROPS if the scheme doesn’t meet the conditions to be a QROPS from 6 April 2012?

If a pension scheme that is a QROPS on 5 April 2012 no longer meets the conditions to be a QROPS on 6 April 2012 members of the pension scheme will be able to remain as members and receive a pension paid from the sums transferred without incurring member payment charges.

Provided it meets all of the current conditions, a transfer made to a QROPS on or before 5 April 2012 will be a “recognised transfer” and members of a pension scheme that is no longer a QROPS will be able to remain as members and receive a pension paid from the sums transferred without incurring member payment charges.”

(RPSM13104050) – Loss of QROPS status

“Existing members of such a pension scheme at the time of loss of status, are not prevented by the tax rules from continuing as members of the ongoing scheme. They may receive benefits that were due under the QROPS from the sums that had transferred in from the originating RPS when the scheme was a QROPS, in the same way as they would if QROPS status continued. The loss of status will not of itself incur member payment charges.”

Such an erroneous and factually incorrect statement within what was labelled a “Technical Quiz” could well result in any individual in this position seeking to transfer out of their existing Guernsey scheme in order to avoid suffering the suggested consequences of member payment charges that the article clearly suggests would be incurred as a result of an individual not transferring away from such a scheme within a three year period.

Money Marketing has since amended its answer from A to C.

Unfortunately once again they’ve provided misinformation. The correct answer to the question is, in, fact D.

Any individual who was a member of a Guernsey QROPS prior to April 2012, that is no longer a QROPS as a result of the legislative revisions that were introduced by HMRC, can continue with the scheme and the administrator will have no ongoing reporting obligations to HMRC.

Generally the administrator of a delisted scheme has a one off obligation at the time of formally delisting, to report on mass for all existing Members and once this report has been made there is no further ongoing reporting obligations to HMRC.

Therefore the message that existing members of such a scheme should be receiving is one of reassurance. They are in fact in arguably the best possible position they could be, with a pension scheme that has the ability to pay gross income (for non-Guernsey resident scheme members) and has no ongoing reporting obligations to HMRC.

In light of the above, you would have to question what motivation might there be for existing members of such a scheme to transfer out of the scheme and into a listed QROPS?

It could be argued that existing members should NOT be seeking to transfer out of their current scheme, regardless of the fact that it is no longer listed as a QROPS. Transferring to another scheme could result in their pension income becoming taxable, in line with the relevant tax laws of the jurisdiction to which the scheme had been transferred, and would also result in the new scheme administrators having ongoing reporting obligations to HMRC. This would be in addition to any charges the transferring scheme and receiving scheme may charge the Member for closure and establishment respectively.


This information is provided for general information only, Concept does not provide financial, legal nor tax advice, and nothing in this document should be construed as such. Concept  shall not be held responsible for any liability or loss arising directly or indirectly from any reliance placed upon the content of this document. Concept recommends that all individuals should seek their own appropriate advice.


Automatic Exchange of Information, the New EUSD V.2

By | News, Pensions, Tax | No Comments

eu-flagOver the last decade we have seen a significant shift in the thinking of tax authorities within a cash strapped Europe. People will need to come to terms with the impact of an ever increasing loss of financial secrecy for their affairs no matter where they locate them.

We now see this vision of transparency on personal affairs of Europeans being further eroded with the confirmation in May 2013 of the revised savings tax directive with adoption by the end of the year across the European Union which will see information distributions from investment funds, income from life assurance policies and innovative financial instruments. By the end of this year and from 2015 it will be extended to include pensions, directors fees, income from employment, income from immovable property and life policies not covered by other EU laws on exchange of information.

Guernsey has been at the leading edge of tax transparency and cooperation with governments around the world for a number of years as evidenced by Guernsey’s position with the UK and the G8, and the recent visit by the IMF and their report. This is why Guernsey is seen as a strong and well regulated jurisdiction for clients and companies to do business in. The real question is will jurisdictions in the G8 join Guernsey in regulating Trust and corporate providers and will they all hold beneficial owner information and themselves be transparent?

Pension Liberation

By | News, Pensions | No Comments

Pension Liberation is a term used to describe any unlawful means used to achieve a release of funds, either during or before retirement. Both the FCA and the Pension’s Regulator in the UK have highlighted this issue as a major concern and one that appears to be on the rise.

Pension Liberation has been an issue in the offshore financial services world for a number of years. An obvious example of this type of practice, that has very recently been closed as a result of revised HMRC legislation, was the ability of some New Zealand QROPS to pay the entire value of an individual’s transferred pension as a lump sum. This form of “pension liberation” was heavily promoted, and this was on the basis that legislation in New Zealand meant it was entirely legal. But recent legislative changes implemented by HMRC were specifically designed to stop this practice and this action highlights the fact that regardless of what might seemingly be ‘allowed’ under the legislation of a local jurisdiction, where UK tax relieved funds are concerned HMRC will take appropriate action to ensure that no form of liberation of an individual’s pension is possible.

The following quote from The Pension’s Regulator in the UK supports this stance:

“There are no lawful means to achieve a release of funds before retirement through pension liberation.”

Pension Liberation is becoming more of an issue in the UK than has previously been the case. With a number of apparent “loopholes” being exploited to make payments outside of what is permitted under UK law.The recent reporting of “Pension Liberation” appears to have created quite the stir within the pensions industry. Concept believes that this should be reinforced to all IFA’s and to Member’s and so are taking this opportunity to advise of the implications entailed.

Roger Berry, Managing Director of Concept Group Limited appeared as guest speaker at the recent GAPP seminar on 24th April 2013. Roger provided insight to the topic of Pension Liberation and how it should not be taken lightly.

Find out more about pension liberation

We have placed cookies on your device to offer you a better browsing experience. If you proceed without changing your Cookie Settings, we’ll assume that's ok with you.